Episode 93 – Sammie Johannes

Sammie lifts her way to better connections


Sammie Johannes has been weight training since she was 16 years old. Her classes ended sooner than her sister’s and brother’s, so she would spend that time at the gym next door, working with dumbbells and doing some kickboxing. Now, she’s placing in powerlifting competitions and hitting milestone lifts in bench, squat, and very close to this in dead lift. Some of her colleagues have even come to support her at these competitions while she proudly wears her firm’s shirt.

In this episode, Sammie and I talk about how her powerlifting has given her more patience and resilience. Training doesn’t always go according to plan and constructive feedback is taken much better after being coached in the gym. The atmosphere at Accodex allows her to be able to talk about her powerlifting, even being encouraged by one of the founding partners to have a flexible schedule if training needs to happen during the day. But it’s not just sharing you’re your hobby or passion, Sammie adds, “It’s important we also share the why for our hobbies and passions.”

Sammie Johannes is a Business Development Executive at Accodex Partners in Adelaide, Australia. She’s also a mentor with Futurepreneurs Launchpad and has volunteered for the Future Accountants Network.

She graduated from the University of Adelaide with a Bachelor of Commerce degree and is currently studying for her MBA at AIM Business School.

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Other pictures of Sammie

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2.5 times body weight Deadlift opener by Nat Stone Photography

Hitting a 52.5kg Bench, which is just over body weight

Sammie can hit a double body weight squat

Sammie’s links



  • Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close

    So many of us are taught a false hope by professionalism. You need to get another certification or another degree or be the best technical person in your field and it’s simply not true.

    If you want to get ahead in business because it’s still a human to human interaction, you just have to show a little bit of personality. Professionalism preaches that people with passions outside of work are less dedicated to their job yet when people ask this week, we have Sammie Johannes, what she does, her answer could easily be I’m an accountant and powerlifter because they’re both important to make up who she is but it’s the ‘and’ her powerlifting that makes someone turn their head and be like say, “What? I mean an accountant who powerlifts?”

    I mean that’s going to make her stand out so, so much. And if you’re listening to this and think hey, I’ve got a hobby or a passion that I love to talk about at work. Please reach out to me because I love to have you on as a guest to the show and share your story. You can go greenapplepodcast.com and send me a quick message or follow us on Twitter @GreenApplePod.

    But today, it’s all about Sammie Johannes, a business development executive at Accodex Partners in Adelaide, Australia. And we’ve actually hung out and I thought she’d be so perfect for the show because again powerlifter and accountant, say what? So Sammie, I’m so excited you’re able to take time to be with me today on the Green Apple Podcast.

    Sammie: You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.

    John: Oh, absolutely. I’m so excited to have you on the show. I mean after we got to hang out here in New York City and grab some pizza in Brooklyn, was that over the summer I think when you were here?

    Sammie: Yeah, October. So what’s that? Your fall?

    John: Right, fall. Yeah, your summer and my fall, whatever. One thing that I love to just ask everybody who’s on is just how did you get into the world of accounting and especially Accodex in general?

    Sammie: So my story is a little bit different. When I finished high school, I was 17. And I was pretty certain that I was going to go into medicine. And so obviously, when I got my end of year results, I was a bit like oh, my God. I didn’t get the right school. So I applied instead for biomedical research science. I went into genetics. About four months in, one of my friends mentioned that they were doing accounting, and I asked for some really niche maths help that I’d done when I had been in high school.

    So I helped them and they’re like, “Well, you hate your degree. Why don’t you swap to commerce?” So I did at the end of that year. And then six months later, I got told about Chris. And back then, it was still Cirillo Hooper & Company not Accodex. And I just reached out one Thursday morning in August going, “Hey, got any internships available this semester?” And he’s emailed back within two hours going, “Yeah, cool. Here’s the forms. You can start on Monday.”

    John: Wow. That’s fantastic. Yeah, I think everyone is super jealous of you right now. “Oh, you just have to ask? That’s how you get internships around here? Okay.”

    Sammie: Yeah. Internship process has changed a lot now with Accodex. But yeah, so I started as an intern and then it was with Cirillo Hooper & Company for three months then did a two-month stint at SAPOL which is our police force here in Australia, in South Australia.

    John: Oh, wow.

    Sammie: I’m in their finance department as an intern through CPA actually. I kind of never left Accodex though or Cirillo Hooper and yeah, came back after work and within three weeks into this other internship, Chris and Marcus were like, “Hey, we’ve got for you when you finish your internship.” So I started as an associate the beginning of March 2014. And yeah, grown from being an associate accountant into my new role which is business development.

    John: That’s awesome. Yeah, yeah. And you’re doing partner relations all over the place, right?

    Sammie: At the moment, we’re focusing on Australia, the U.S. and the UK. Currently, we’ve got 30 partners across the three countries. So my role is to support and ensure that success. It’s really interesting seeing the different personalities of all of our partners and seeing the different industries that they’re working in. It’s really awesome to actually see them picking an industry that they are passionate about and choosing to focus all of their energy onto working with people in that niche area.

    John: Yeah, that’s awesome. Yeah, because I mean it’s kind of counterintuitive especially to accountants that to do the niche, whatever you want to call it because you’re afraid that you closing the doors to other customers. So it’s cool that you guys have found partners that are willing to do that and embrace that.

    Sammie: Yeah. They’re overly open to it. I mean they don’t discriminate against who they want to work with really like they’ll take people from other industries as well if they’re a good fit.

    John: Sure, sure. But to focus on something is certainly great to be known for that especially if it’s an industry that you really enjoyed. So did you finish that commerce degree or how did you end up with the accounting world?

    Sammie: So I didn’t actually finish the accounting pathway. I actually graduated with a straight Bachelor of Commerce. So I finished in February 2016. And then I’ve also since then completed a diploma of leadership and management and I’ve started my MBA.

    John: Nice! Congratulations. That’s very cool. But when you do have a little bit of free time, I mean your hobby, it’s a passion really is so fascinating to me because I don’t know how it works. But yeah, why don’t you tell everybody what you enjoy doing the most.

    Sammie: So my passion is powerlifting. Powerlifting is not Olympic lifting. They’re two separate things. So powerlifting is squat, bench, and deadlift. I do competitions, just novice ones at the moment. I’m looking at doing sanctioned within the next year.

    John: Oh, wow. Yeah.

    Sammie: Yeah. So that means I’ll be able to you know, if I can, I’d love to qualify for nationals. But some of the girls are crazy strong here.

    John: Yeah. Well I mean —

    Sammie: I’m not too sure how I’d place.

    John: Yeah. Well I mean I’ve seen your tweets and I’m like oh, yeah. You’re like benching me basically. So I’m like oh, yeah. I should just — like this isn’t even funny. Yeah. I mean it’s impressive. I mean and how did you get into powerlifting? Because I mean it’s not really something you just walk in and start doing one day, is it? How did that work?

    Sammie: I’ve always trained since I was about 16 because when I was in high school, in the senior school, we’re allowed to finish it 1:30 on a Friday. Because I still have a younger sister at the school and my brother was still at primary school. I had to kind of kill time until they finished. So I used to go to the gym with a bunch of friends, a couple that I’m still friends with now actually. So we’d train and I sort of did more of the bodybuilding training back then. And then when I got back from America in 2014, I had been pretty sick for a few months and Chris and Marcus staged an intervention.

    John: Oh, wow. Okay.

    Sammie: And Chris was like — Chris got me to do a Tony Robbins Personal Power 2 program. And he also put me in touch with one of our clients who is a powerlifting coach. So I started powerlifting and I had a pretty good squat by that point already but had no idea about benching and deadlifting. Yeah, so I trained with him for about a year and then I sort of did my own training for a bit and then moved on to my new coach who I’ve been with now for just over a year.

    John: That’s awesome. So started out as something to do to spend time until your parents pick you up after school. And now look, you’re in competitions and kicking butt and taking names. So that’s impressive. That’s certainly not part of the commerce curriculum when you’re enrolled in university, right?

    Sammie: Yeah, definitely not.

    John: That’s for sure. So what might be some of the coolest or more rewarding things that you’ve gotten to do from your powerlifting?

    Sammie: So I think my favorite thing would have to be actually placing third at the charity deadlift back in February out of all the girls. Yeah, so that was my first placing. It was a comp for a bit of fun. I did like a two-way prep going into it which is like the worst thing to do ever.

    John: Yeah. Just enough but not enough to actually get good.

    Sammie: Yeah, so I pulled an equal pb to what I pulled back in my last comp in November which was actually four days after I got back from the U.S. Yeah, so I pulled an equal pb and I was just doing it for fun because it was for charity. So it was for the prostate cancer foundation. And then I think my other main career highlight has been I’ve hit a double body weight squat which is what you’re supposed to be able to hit. I’ve hit a body weight bench. So my bench is 52 ½ kilos so that’s just over body weight, and I’ve also almost hit my 2.5 times body weight deadlift.

    John: Wow. That’s awesome. That’s very cool. Yeah, I mean that’s all the numbers that I can dream off. So that’s so impressive. And I mean clearly you don’t start out that way. So you need to take time to build and train to get up there. I mean you know, the patience has to be unbelievable.

    Sammie: Yeah. Powerlifting has taught me a few things. Number one is patience because if you think like sometimes your training doesn’t go to plan and you’ll miss a lift or you might accidentally injure yourself. But it’s also taught me about resilience and being able to take feedback a lot better. So learning that constructive feedback is actually important, not them being negative. It’s taught me a lot about how it’s communicated as well.

    John: Yeah. I mean that’s great and it has to easily translate over to the office.

    Sammie: Yeah, it definitely does.

    John: Yeah, yeah. And even, I mean I imagined too that that would be somewhat of a stress reliever I would guess.

    Sammie: Yeah, it is. I’ve been known a couple of times during like stressful periods to actually bring my gym clothes to work. And I’ll disappear to the gym for two hours and then come back and work the rest of the day.

    John: That’s awesome. That’s so great. And it’s so cool that Accodex lets you do that because they understand that you are doing good work and that’s what’s going to make you more productive. So you’ll get the work done in your own time. And yeah, that’s really cool. That’s really cool. Yeah, and so clearly, this is something that you talk about at work with others.

    Sammie: Yeah. So it’s actually really awesome. My first competition last year in July, half of our office actually came out and watched me compete.

    John: Wow! That’s great.

    Sammie: Yeah. And so I also wear like an Accodex t-shirt when I’m competing.

    John: Very cool.

    Sammie: So I’ve got like a little bit of sponsorship. So Chris will like buy me protein and stuff which I just hoard in the office.

    John: Right, right. Yeah, I mean that’s just got to feel so great when they’re there to see you and to support you and you know, something that you’re so passionate about that they maybe don’t know anything about but they are excited that you’re excited.

    Sammie: Yeah. Well out of that, one of the girls, she’s a friend of the company but she came and watched as well, Lauren Thiel, who you had in the podcast previously.

    John: Yeah. She’s a guest in the Green Apple Podcast, absolutely.

    Sammie: Yeah. So Lauren actually then went and she saw the comp and she went and signed up for a personal trainer and started lifting herself.

    John: Oh, no. She’s going to like beat me up one day. I could feel it. Like all my Beyoncé references throughout our interview. That’s great. But good for her. That’s awesome. Very cool. Look at you. You’re like a trendsetter now. That’s awesome.

    Sammie: Yeah. I wouldn’t say a trendsetter but like I love sharing my passion. And one of our other partners in the U.S., he was like, “I really want to get back into gym and doing stuff.” So I shared a few of my programs that my coach have done with him to give him an idea of what to do and he absolutely loved it.

    John: Yeah. That’s great. I mean yeah, and the connections with those partners that share that same passion have to be just a little bit stronger just because when you have something in common with someone, your brain triggers and those bonds are formed a little bit tighter. Yeah, so that’s very cool, really neat and probably a great conversation starter whenever you do talk to that partner.

    Sammie: Yeah, it is.

    John: Yeah. No, that’s very cool. So I guess one thing that I always kick around in my head is how much is it on an organization to create a culture where it’s cool to share and wear our t-shirt when you’re performing in competitions and we’ll come and watch you versus how much is it on the individual to just kind of step up and over lunch or at some point just say, hey, I really love to do this hobby, passion sort of a thing.

    Sammie: I think that’s a bit of both. Obviously, leading from the top down so like the executives telling us what they love to do and what they’re passionate about will open up the floor for others to speak about their passions and share what they love to do. I think in larger organizations, it’s a big harder but in a smaller organization like we are at the moment, one thing we really focused on is getting to know everyone really in depth. We’ve got a really close culture here at Accodex. And so everyone knows what everyone loves to do. One of the girls loves to bake. One of the other boys loves to play chess and does chess competitions. So everyone knows what everyone’s passion is and we all support each other and share it.

    John: Yeah. No. So is it something that when like you’re interviewing people or their first day? They have to say what they love to do or it just kind of just comes out in conversation because everyone else is talking about what they’re doing?

    Sammie: Yeah, we kind of try to find out pretty early on what they love to do. So it helps us to be able to help them in terms of schedule their work hours and manage their time.

    John: Right, right. Yeah, because I mean that’s the thing is if you don’t know, and let’s say you want to go lift during the days and then no one knows that, you never say it then you’re going to get angry. You’re going to get frustrated. You’re going to quit where that’s cool on you guys to ask and be like, “Hey, how come we maybe work with you?” So everybody wins.

    Yeah, I mean I completely agree with you on that and so I guess if you were to meet anyone who maybe is an accountant or consultant or an engineer or you know, and they also do powerlifting and they’re kind of concerned that you know, “Hey, this has nothing to do with accounting so why should I talk about it in the office?” Do you have any words of encouragement to others?

    Sammie: I guess it makes you more approachable. It gives you more of that understanding and like ability to build relationships with others because someone else in the office might have the same passion. But the thing is, you got to remember. You got to say why? Why you’re passionate about it. That “Why?” is so important.

    John: Yeah. I mean I agree totally and that’s such a huge point right there is — because it is one thing to just say you know, yeah, “I really like to powerlift” but the why behind it — yeah, because then I mean no one can question it really. It’s just okay, yeah. That makes complete sense sort of a thing because a lot of people can relate then because they also have a passion with a why and you know, why is their why any better than yours? It’s not. Yeah, that’s a huge point. And I would imagine especially in your job as partner relations, that’s like 101 type of stuff.

    Sammie: Yeah. Especially with our partners, it’s like why are you passionate about working with that industry like what drives you to want to work with them?

    John: Yeah. No, that’s exactly it. Yeah, wow. That’s profound. You should be running this podcast. Why do I even do this? Like between you and Lauren and half of Australia that I’ve had on, you guys are awesome. I mean it’s dangerous. If I live there, I might still be at accounting which would be bad for everyone involved. But I do have a rule. Even though we’ve hung out and had some Juliana’s Pizza here in Brooklyn, I do have my 17 rapid fire questions I like to run you through.

    Sammie: Awesome.

    John: So let me fire this thing up and let’s see what happens. I think you’re going to kill it. I could feel it. All right, here we go. Here we go. First one, we’ll start out easy. Do you have a favorite color?

    Sammie: Blue.

    John: Blue, all right. How about a least favorite color?

    Sammie: Green.

    John: Green, interesting. They’re kind of similar. How about, do you have a favorite place you’ve been on vacation?

    Sammie: Definitely country New York.

    John: Oh, okay. All right, yeah. Because everything’s better just after meeting John, it’s pretty much what you’re trying to say.

    Sammie: Of course not.

    John: All right. How about more pens or pencils?

    Sammie: Pens.

    John: Pens. No mistakes. All right. How about when it comes to computers, PC or Mac?

    Sammie: Mac.

    John: Mac. Yeah, of course. You’re one of the cool kids. Since we had pizza. Favorite toppings on a pizza. You can load it up.

    Sammie: So tomato, zucchini, sweet potato, cheese, ham, bacon because you can always have both and tomato base as well.

    John: All right. For a second there, I thought you were just looking in your fridge and rattling things off. I’m like sweet potatoes, like what?

    Sammie: Sweet potato on pizza is the best thing ever.

    John: That’s impressive. I may have to give that a whirl. Good for you. Would you say you are more Star Wars or Star Trek?

    Sammie: Star Wars.

    John: Okay, all right. How about more diamonds or pearls?

    Sammie: Diamonds.

    John: Oh, yeah. I heard a little twinkle on your voice on that one. That made me nervous. How about, do you have a favorite animal? Any animal.

    Sammie: Dogs.

    John: Dogs, all right. How about when it comes to financials. More balance sheet or income statement?

    Sammie: Income statement.

    John: There you go, there you go. How about do you have a favorite actor or actress?

    Sammie: Johnny Depp.

    John: Johnny Depp. Yeah, I don’t even have to ask why on that one. That’s — yeah, all right. How about what’s a typical breakfast?

    Sammie: Normally like Weet-Bix which is like a brick of like it’s oats.

    John: Right, right. I have seen those.

    Sammie: Yeah. It’s pretty cool.

    John: Right. It’s like a shredded wheat brick for those of you in the U.S. I don’t even know how to eat it. So you just let it get soggy and then break it up.

    Sammie: Well, you can or you can put stuff like Nutella on it and eat it hard.

    John: I didn’t know that there was Nutella involved and you just eat it like a cracker. All right. Are you more of an early bird or a night owl?

    Sammie: Early bird.

    John: Early bird for sure. All right, three more. Do you have a favorite number?

    Sammie: 7.

    John: 7. And why is that?

    Sammie: It was the number played under when I was playing soccer back in high school.

    John: Sure. All right. Okay, all right. Two more. Do you have a favorite band?

    Sammie: Cold War Kids.

    John: Cold War Kids, yeah. I’m going to have to check them out. And last one. The favorite thing you own or the favorite thing you have?

    Sammie: My rescue puppy.

    John: Rescue puppy. It’s a hybrid of something?

    Sammie: Yeah. He’s a staffy cross kelpie and possibly greyhound.

    John: Oh, my. That’s an interesting little mix there. All right. Very cool. Well, that’s awesome. Yeah, this had been so fun, Sammie, and I’m so excited to share your story with everybody and inspire myself to just go do like ten pushups or something. So thank you so much for taking time to be with me on the Green Apple Podcast.

    Sammie: Thank you for having me.

    John: That was really, really fun. I particularly loved how Sammie said it’s important we also share the ‘Why?’ for our hobbies and passions. I mean that’s so profound. It’s one thing to learn about what someone loves to do but it’s a whole different level to actually find out why that particular thing.

    If you’d like to see some pictures of Sammie lifting way more weights than I could ever do and connect with her on social media, go to greenapplepodcast.com. And this show has its own Twitter handler @GreenApplePod so follow us there and thank you so much for the ratings and the comments on iTunes and your favorite android app. That really helps out and thank you also for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread which is to go out and be a green apple.

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